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Chokeberry Aronia arbutifolia

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Aronia arbutifolia var. glabra
  • Photinia pyrifolia
  • Pyrus arbutifolia
  • Pyrus arbutifolia var. glabra
  • Pyrus arbutifolia var. oblongifolia
  • Sorbus arbutifolia
Phonetic Spelling
ar-OH-nee-ah ar-bew-tih-FOH-lee-ah
Description

The Red Chokeberry is a native, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub that has multi-season interest. It is found in both wet and dry thickets in Eastern Canada and the Central and the Eastern United States.

It typically grows in a vase-shaped form to 6-10’ tall and 3-6' wide but tends to sucker and form colonies. The plant has a stiff and upright habit with a fibrous root system. It is best used in mass planting as it tends to become leggy with age. The Red Chokeberry is easily grown in average, medium moisture soils. It has a wide range of soil tolerance, including boggy soils. It is recommended that root suckers be removed to prevent colonial spread. The best fruit and flower production occurs in full sun.

Spring brings clusters of white to light pink flowers. The leaves are green and glossy throughout the summer and turn orangish-red in the fall. Bright red pear-shaped berries appear in the fall and may persist through the winter. The bark is reddish-brown and adds interest to a winter garden.

The berries are tart and bitter. The Red Chokeberry's fruits can be used in canning or making jams and jellies. Jellies are heavy, sweet, and solid due to the abundance of pectin.  The Red Chokeberry can be eaten raw and is more palatable than the Black Chokeberry. 

The genus name, Aronia, is from the Greek word, 'aria.' This is the Greek name for the species of Sorbus, whose fruits are similar to the Chokeberry. The species name, arbutifolia, means "with leaves like Arbutus." This is a genus of small trees and shrubs that have edible fruit. The common name, Chokeberry, references its tart and bitter berries. They are edible but are so astringent they may cause choking.

They tolerate wet sites and occasional flooding. They are propagated by seeds, soft-wood cuttings, or by removing suckers and potting them when the plant is dormant

Consider the native Red Chokeberry for its multi-season interest in a Pollinator or Winter Garden.

 Fire Risk:  This plant has a low flammability rating.

Wildlife value:  This plant has little resistance to damage from deer. Its fruits are eaten by mammals and birds. Butterflies and pollinators are attracted to the flowers for nectar.

Insects, Disease, or Other Plant Problems:  No serious disease/insect problems but they can develop leaf spot and twig/fruit blight

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Brilliantissima'
    Compact and abundant fruits and flowers
  • 'Erecta'
    An upright form. Fruits not as colorful as the species
'Brilliantissima', 'Erecta'
Tags:
#red#white#showy flowers#deciduous#fall color#full sun tolerant#rain garden#drought tolerant#white flowers#shrub#red berries#wildlife plant#pink flowers#native tree#tree#red leaves#medicinal#winter interest#fall interest#mass planting#playground#wet sites#small mammals#food source#low flammability#NC native#turtles#thickets#children's garden#native garden#fire resistant#naturalizes#food source fall#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#Coastal FACW#Piedmont Mountains FACW#fruits#bird friendly#dry soils tolerant#food source soft mast fruit#partial shade tolerant#bog gardens#audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Brilliantissima'
    Compact and abundant fruits and flowers
  • 'Erecta'
    An upright form. Fruits not as colorful as the species
'Brilliantissima', 'Erecta'
Tags:
#red#white#showy flowers#deciduous#fall color#full sun tolerant#rain garden#drought tolerant#white flowers#shrub#red berries#wildlife plant#pink flowers#native tree#tree#red leaves#medicinal#winter interest#fall interest#mass planting#playground#wet sites#small mammals#food source#low flammability#NC native#turtles#thickets#children's garden#native garden#fire resistant#naturalizes#food source fall#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#Coastal FACW#Piedmont Mountains FACW#fruits#bird friendly#dry soils tolerant#food source soft mast fruit#partial shade tolerant#bog gardens#audubon
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Aronia
    Species:
    arbutifolia
    Family:
    Rosaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Some species of the genus, Aronia, were used by Native Americans to treat the common cold.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern Canada to Central and Eastern United States
    Distribution:
    Native: Canada--New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec; United States--AL, AR, CT, DE, DC, FL, GA KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MS, NH, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV Introduced: Netherlands
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    The shrub's winter berries are eaten by mammals and birds. Butterflies and pollinators enjoy the flower nectar in the spring.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Food Source
    Edibility:
    The raw berries are bitter and tart. The fruits may be used to make tasty jams and jellies.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 6 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 3 ft. 0 in. - 5 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Columnar
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Multi-trunked
    Open
    Spreading
    Vase
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Frequent Standing Water
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4b, 4a, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Pome
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit matures to a red glossy berry or pome. The berry measures 1/4 to 1/3 inch in diameter, and they form dense clusters along the branches. Each pome contains 1-5 seeds. The fruits mature from September to November and may persist throughout the winter months. The fruits may be eaten raw or cooked and made into tasty jams and jellies. The Red Chokeberry is sweeter than the Black Chokeberry.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Corymb
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Cup
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The flowers appear along the branches. The blooms form clusters or corymbs of white to light pink with red anthers and are 5-petaled flowers. They measure 1 inch in diameter and bloom in May. Butterflies and bees are attracted to their nectar.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Orange
    Pink
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Oblong
    Obovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are oblong, obovate, or elliptical. They measure about 1 inch to 3.5 inches long and up to 1.5 inches wide. The leaf's upper surface is glossy, smooth, medium green to dark green. The undersides of the leaf are grayish-green and pubescent. The foliage turns orange to bright red in October.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Light Gray
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Exfoliating
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    The bark is reddish-brown, thin, smooth, and exfoliating, which adds color to the garden during the winter months. As the shrub ages, the bark becomes grayish-brown.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    The twigs are brownish-red with bright red buds that almost circle the stem. There are multiple upright stems.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Recreational Play Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Children's Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rain Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Hedge
    Mass Planting
    Screen/Privacy
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Dry Soil
    Fire
    Wet Soil